Foundation Genetics - Sable&Capp

The Sable and Cappuccino Discussion

Updated: 6/13/23, v1.0


Sable and Cappuccino Community Discussions

With so many thoughts and comparisons concerning Cappuccino and Sable, the community needs to address the issues involved and the difference between the two traits. Overall, genetics in crested geckos is relatively new. Unfortunately, the personal drive to be at the forefront results in forced agendas and misinformation and is currently getting out of hand. This causes breeders to bypass the necessary steps to carefully review the information from an unbiased perspective. This, in turn, causes a rampant spread of hype and misinformation. Many people who share the information end up unknowingly participating because of their desire to learn and share.

Improving Standards and Practices

Our goal is to teach how to evaluate information. The gained genetic knowledge we have learned as a community can identify and alleviate the spread of this type of misinformation. As a community, we need to develop a standard for analyzing results to prove our traits and inheritance (Article under development; Standards for analyzing and proving genetic inheritance). This will provide a higher degree of accuracy. It will promote discussions that are based on good practices vs highly speculative hyped results... sometimes based on a single animal with an unknown background.

The lack of genetic understanding is a serious issue. Part 1 of the Foundation Genetics book is intended to fast-track breeders and enthusiasts to understand the basics of genetics. Part 1 avoids and attempts to correct the mismanaged online discussions surrounding reptile genetics, which is consistently comprised of several incorrect definitions and poor usage of genetic terminology. When attempting to try and prove that Cappuccinos might be Sables, hobbyists breed similar phenotypes into one or the other to make each trait look like the other. With these newer traits being explored it is impossible to have either trait clearly defined, especially when accounting for all the potential interactions derived from other traits, which also includes taking account of each trait's degree of dominance. Making similar-looking phenotypes with different trait sets does not mean that they would be the same traits. Breeding and stacking white pattern into Cappuccinos may make them look more like Sables, but it does not definitively identify white pattern as the trait that makes a Sable a Sable... or a Sable a Cappuccino with white pattern. At some point, we may find that a specific white pattern trait, or affecting trait, may define Sable. If that’s the case then the white trait is what would define Sable, whether or not it is in a Cappuccino animal. Trait interactions do not define a trait. This interaction is the difference between a trait and a morph. If Sable were to require Cappuccino to create the phenotype of Sable, it would still be a combo.

Arguments from both sides

Differences are observed between Super Cappuccino, Luwak, and Super Sable, but some similarities are being used as proof of the traits being the same. Similarities can be accounted for by the range and interaction between a given trait and any other traits in each subject animal. Breeding a Luwak to a non-Sable/non-Cappuccino should provide evidence of two distinct genetic traits by trait isolation. For the sake of comparing theories... if we had a Cappuccino and believed Sable was the same, we could breed the white pattern of Sable into the Cappuccino and have a white patterned Cappuccino that has the Sable look. Isn't it interesting that when you breed the two traits into one animal you end up with Luwak, rather than a Cappuccino with the Sable white patterned trait?

Some believe the cross is a Super Cappuccino with WP and fewer health-related issues and a slightly different phenotype. Yes, there will be some overlapping similarities as the range and interacting traits mentioned earlier contribute. Similarities and similar characteristics are common in allelic traits. The genetic makeup is identifiably different, but can produce similar phenotypes and, can easily be confused for one another without knowing the genetics. Some of the best examples can be seen in the ball python community with the BlueEL complex. The complex currently has around 10 different traits assigned to it. Producing a myriad of different combos when mixed with other traits. Several combos have enough overlap that it is difficult to discern which trait is contributing to the combo. For our discussion here Lilly Capp and Lilly Sable would represent this overlap. In both examples, the super forms often produce a unique form as we see in the BEL complex. The CS complex being examined also produces these results with Super Sable Lilly and Luwak. More breedings are required, but currently, the evidence would seem to indicate allelism over unrelated genes.

The hobby's drive to prove or disprove the allelism theory spreads misinformation rampant on social media. Egos and a poor genetic understanding play an overwhelming role in creating divides and issues between breeders. Arguing similarities and differences, based on personal visual interpretation, minimal evidence, and using hand selected photos is simply biased. Although everyone in the hobby will have a degree of bias on this subject, how we proceed in the pursuit of knowledge will lead us to a better formed consensus, a better understanding, and a better community.

Conceding the point

  • The Allelism Hypothesis - Sable is Allelic
  • This hypothesis describes Sable as a variant of the Cappuccino allele that occupies the same locus as Cappuccino, there are only 2 allele slots for every gene, which means you can never make a Super Cappuccino/Sable or Super Sable/Cappuccino, nor a Super Cappuccino/Super Sable.  The Luwak is the only form we can hope to produce with both genes.
  • A - In order to establish Sable as an allelic variant we need to produce the following results.

1. Pair Cappuccino X Sable, to produce a combination of both morphs that is unique from Super Cappuccino and Super Sable.

    • This new morphotype helps to provide the material to determine allelism is a possibility.

2. Produce unique combo forms that cannot be produced with the Cappuccino form of the same combo.

    • This will produce a new form of every combo further establishing the allelism theory. This also has failed to produce the combo form we know as the Sorak (Super Cappuccino/Lilly White combo).

3. Produce a Super of each form by pairing a CappuccinoSable x CappuccinoSable.

    • This will produce a spread of Super Sable, Super Cappuccino, and CappuccinoSable.

4. Pair Super Cappuccino with Super Sable.

    • This should produce 100% Luwak and never produce a Super Cappuccino nor a Super Sable.
  • The Cappuccino plus Sable (WP) Hypothesis - Sable is a WP gene with Cappuccino not an allelic variant
  • This hypothesis argues that Sable is a different white pattern gene that is being added to Cappuccino, making the Sable a combo morph not a variant that is allelic with Cappuccino. This means we can make Sable/Super Cappuccino and many other combos. Since Sable would be the white pattern gene that is being added to Cappuccino we need to be able to separate it out as its own trait morph for this theory to be true. By separating Sable from Cappuccino we could breed each trait separately, which would effectively double the morphs in the hobby.
  • B - In order to establish that Sable is a Cappuccino combo where a gene is adding white pattern to the animal, making a combo, we need to produce the following results.

1. Pair Cappuccino X Sable, to try and produce the Super Cappuccino that does not show any white dorsum patterning. This only works if the Sable WP is not also in Homozygous form which means the Sable has 2 copies of the WP gene. The Sable must only have 1 copy of the WP gene.

    • This shows if they are located on separate alleles, and should produce three types of super forms, the Super Cappuccino, Luwak, and a Super Sable.

2. Breed the Luwak to a normal.

    • This should produce a Sable, Cappuccino, and WP gene animal. That WP Gene animal can then be used to make the Sable and Super Sable by adding it to Cappuccino animals.

3. Produce a Super Sable by only using Cappuccino that have had high WP added to them.

    • This should produce a Super Sable by using the high white patterning that is suspected of being the contribution to what causes the white/yellowish patterning on the Super Sable but may also produce a Luwak intermediate form depending on if the WP is in Het or Hzg form.

4. Pair High WP Cappuccino to a High WP Cappuccino Lilly.

    • This should produce the Super Sable and the Super Sable Lilly morphs that we see in the Super Sable Lilly combo. This is somthing we have not seen in the Sorak yet.

How to Evaluate the Variants

In evaluating possible new forms we should look at practical known real-world examples. In this case, we will use the Bel complex we find in Ball Pythons.  There are arguably 10 allelic variants being described for Blue Eyed Leucistics.  For the sake of conveying the example, we will use examples with a larger difference between the two.

Both variants are allelic, incomplete dominant, and produce similar but unique Het forms. This is due to the nature of incomplete dominant genes, they are being affected by all other non-allelic traits. The "Complete" form of the trait, what we call "Super," is how we identify the complete form of the trait. How we identify allelism is with the results we produce from pairings. When only one form or the other is produced from the combination of the two traits, Luwak for example only producing Sable or Cappuccino but not producing a Luwak on its own. For our next example, we will examine non-allelic combos which will also usually yield unique forms but with more overlap and can be difficult to discern which of the two traits are at play, Mojave or Lesser.

In this example, we have added the GHI trait to the Lesser and the Mojave respectively. These animals are very similar with slight differences. The Lesser and Mojave are still in Het form and the GHI trait has a strong influence on both of them. This is a direct comparison to Lilly Sable and Frappuccino (Cappuccino Lilly). The phenotypes produced may often be very difficult to discern which gene is at play without proper Genetic Lineage tracking. When the homozygous form is made of both traits they become immediately distinguishable.

The Lesser and Mojave produce very similar BEL super forms. Both are much easier to distinguish in their homozygous forms and the last photo shows the compound heterozygous (one copy of each allele of the same gene, producing a unique super form). This is in direct comparison to the Luwak and the contrasting differences we find in Cappuccino and Sable super forms.

Here in this example, if you click each photo, we can see the various forms of the CS Complex that makes the various forms between Sable and Cappuccino complete forms. This also includes the Lilly combo forms added to the super forms. This is a direct comparison to how we see other complexes form in other species.

The Math Behind the Problem.

For the Sable to consistently prove out super forms the WP trait that is speculated to be behind the super difference needs to also be in homozygous form. This means all Super Sable are also homozygous for the WP trait otherwise we should see Luwaks as well. However, breeding records indicate this is not the case. Below we have a non-allelic Punnett example that shows that we should be seeing 12% Super Cappuccinos being produced when breeding for Luwak, these results are still being produced at the time of writing this article. With all results being presented, we still also require 3rd party confirming results from multiple breeders that can prove or disprove the allelic and non-allelic arguments.

While trying to reproduce the Sable and Super Sable result by using only Cappuccino animals is being attempted we are still 12-18 months away from significant findings. Even when we have those results, a failure to produce the Super Sable form is not a definitive "nail in the coffin". This is because we are currently aware of 3 different WP traits that contribute to white patterning on crested geckos. If the WP theory is to be fully tested, we need to be able to test all WP forms to identify which may be the culprit.

If the Cappuccino argument does happen to prove that there is a WP gene that is producing the Super Sable and various combo differences, then it means Sable is the WP gene. This effectively doubles the trait variations we already see in the hobby and still substantiates Sable as a gene. It is just a different gene than we expected. What this shows is that one of the 2 WP genes we have described in Foundation Genetics could be the cause, otherwise, it is a 3rd gene we have yet to fully describe.

In short, there's a lot of work to do on both sides! At best, we are 12-24 months away from the Cappuccino results of adding extreme white patterning to produce the super form found in Sables. With the Sable evidence continuing to prove in its favor we are 6-18 months away from seeing all results produce evidence to further clear up what is happening. This is a heated conversation in some spaces but in others, the conversations have been very open to both party arguments and shows that the community as a whole is growing together and finally evolving into the genetic sphere when discussing phenotypes.